Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dave's dodgy diner

It’s not cash for access, it’s policies for power. To win and keep power, politicians want money. They’re quite prepared to sell a few policies in order to achieve their heart’s desire.

The Tories are bang to rights. Cameron is personally guilty. In an honourable world he would resign. In this one, he will call for some sort of Parliamentary inquiry into political funding which will conclude that private donors should be discouraged.

And, in exchange, the politicians will vote to take taxpayers’ money instead in a clear admission that they can’t actually trust themselves (let alone each other) to deal honestly.


No sooner said than done –the Government’s new planning regime will destroy the countryside and deny urban areas the investment they desperately need.

Now we can see it’s happening already: a new town in the green belt between Birmingham and Coventry to go alongside the HS2 plus a third runway at Heathrow. They cannot be serious.


Beware exploding Duracell batteries. Strangely, when you ring them up to complain, they don’t sound at all surprised to learn one of their AAs has blown up.


It’s that time of the year again – the time when local councils, health authorities and other Government bodies try to get rid of as much money as possible before the end of the month. An NHS manager told me the other day she resigned after being asked to spend £30 million in March, having struggled through the previous 11 months trying to obtain any cash at all to improve services for the elderly.


The scandal at the Ministry of Defence goes on and on. The car-boot sale of Harrier jump jets to the Americans has left this country defenceless. Now the planned aircraft carriers, which won’t be built for years, can’t accommodate the aircraft they’re supposed to carry. This country’s defence policy must be run by enemies of the state because nobody in their right mind would conduct it in this way.


Dear Dave, If I have more kids, no job and no income and I plot terrorist attacks in this country and abroad, will you give me a bigger house too? It’s only fair and reasonable or do we only offer these things to friends of the late Osama bin Laden?


BMW is offering workers in Oxford a six per cent pay rise – if they knock 10 minutes off their tea break. Is this an assault on our national character?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Poor old George

If George Osborne really doesn't pay the 50 per cent rate of tax then it's a fair bet most of the family's income, excluding his Chancellor's salary, is in his wife's name and not his. Either that or he has other "unusual" arrangments to minimise his tax. His problem now is that until we get full disclosure in public, this story will not go away. George will have to come clean and give us chapter and verse about his tax affairs.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

We're on the road to nowhere

Roads for the rich? Cameron's plans for Zil lanes on motorways won't do anything to ease congestion. We in the West Midlands know that better than anyone - the toll road having done nothing whatsoever to reduce delays on the M6. Oh and I notice the M6 round Junction 10 is lined up for an experimental 80 mph limit. Is this some sort of joke?


After all the ridiculous hype and hysteria over the Budget, we are left with a modest measure which makes hardly any difference. It's all about symbolism and image-making; economically, what really counts is taking place elsewhere. The more sound and fury there is, the less it signifies.

Mind you, scrapping national pay rates is a good idea – provided the Government pays workers in London and the South East less than those elsewhere in the country. This is to redress the balance and stop the capital becoming even more of a foreign country than it is already.


The C of E's gay lobby should be very pleased with itself. It's getting marriage and bishops and it's now claimed the scalp of the Archbishop of Canterbury himself. No matter how liberal Rowan Williams may be, it's not liberal enough for the flock of fanatics which now dictate terms in the supposedly conservative, establishment, old-fashioned Church.


Why on earth should rag and bone men be exempt from the new laws cracking down on the scrap-metal trade? Is it because they are “travellers” and the Government is afraid of offending one of its favourite minorities?


At last, someone in authority has had the courage to rule that it is unacceptable for women to expect to be treated in the same way as everyone else if they insist on wearing a face-covering niqab. This is not a religious necessity – it is a symbol of rejection and alienation and should be treated as such. Good for Judge Aidan Marron QC.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Water, water everywhere

Water disgrace - The privatised monopolies whining about their inability to supply a basic commodity to the people of Britain should be forced to secure their supplies by building a national grid. With their money, not ours (though it would still be a cheaper and wiser investment of public funds than a high-speed rails-for-the-rich train trip from Birmingham to London.


What Cameron should be telling Obama (assuming he knows, which is doubtful): In 1842 the British army suffered one of its worst humiliations when it retreated from Afghanistan and was so badly destroyed only one man made it back to India. Nothing much has changed in the last 170 years. We are doing no good and we should get out now before more people die unnecessarily.


Is there actually any difference between a civil partnership and a gay wedding?


Why is Cameron proposing to take on the village green preservation societies across the country by ripping up the planning rule book and allowing a development free-for-all? The Tories say it’s to boost the economy but property companies are already doing better than for many years and they have plenty of land already available to keep them busy. This is another unnecessary battle the Conservatives are waging against their natural supporters.


Forget a tycoon tax or a mansion tax – what we need is a new fund to funnel bankers’ bonuses into small businesses. In next week’s Budget, Chancellor George Osborne should kill two birds with one stone if he made rich bankers put their money to use for the good of the economy.


Why is the Government planning to ban people from displaying their Christianity?


As TV programmes are accused of breaking the law, why is it OK to promote gambling these days? It used to be regarded as worse than smoking and drinking – now half the Premiership teams have betting company sponsors. The National Lottery made it respectable despite the misery gambling can cause.


I always felt it was a failing on my part that The Smiths always left me cold, no matter how many people seem to regard them as Gods. But after Morrissey's performance in Argentina I'm pleased to realise I was right all along. They were dreadful and Morrissey still is.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Ransomed by the Post Office

“This is an example, sir, where ignorance is no excuse.”

You might think I was being apprehended by the police for a crime of some kind. But no. I was collecting a birthday card sent by a friend with a first class stamp on it but withheld by the Post Office on the grounds that it was the wrong size.

It was square and, according to the man behind the Post Office counter in Evesham, it did not conform to the required shape and size to qualify for a mere first class stamp.

He demonstrated how it would not fit the Post Office’s standard letterbox sizes and said such templated letterboxes had been sent to every house in the country.

I protested I had never seen one but he had no sympathy. English card-manufacturers warned customers if their cards did not conform to the Post Office’s demands, he said.

Clearly I was being sent a foreign card. How exciting. (Actually it was bought at Marks & Spencer and seemed to have no warning about its shape and the dangers of being held to ransom by the Post Office.)

If I wanted the birthday card, I would not only have to pay the excess 22p which my friend had failed to cough up. I would have to pay an extra £1 on top of that as a handling charge, for causing the Post Office so much inconvenience.

Of course I coughed up but not before complaining about what a rip-off the whole system was.

But as we all know, the Post Office is not any ordinary business which aims at pleasing its customers and encouraging them to continue using its services. It’s a State monopoly determined to exploit its position for all it’s worth, for as long as it can, for the benefit of its employees.

As the man handed the envelope over to me he declared: “This is an example, sir, where ignorance is no excuse.”

I was so shocked I laughed. Does he think he’s a policeman or some court official or some jobsworth handing out a parking ticket? Does he think my ignorance, or that of my friend, is my fault rather than a result of his organisation’s pathetic attempts to con the public?

“That is so fxxxing rude,” I told him. Rather than prolong what could have turned very nasty, I decided to leave. But I am still seething.

Why can’t we privatise the whole organisation? At least then its employees might give some sort of thought for the poor ruddy customer.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Birmingham - better than London

Caroline Spelman is responsible for the utter disgrace of Ofwat allowing their new boss to work in London because – allegedly – nobody suitable would take the job if it was based in Birmingham. Yet Ms Spelman is MP for Meriden (right next to Birmingham in case she hadn’t noticed). Disgraceful.
George Osborne is right – there is no money. So why do so many people seem to think there’s still room for tax cuts, higher public spending and cash for their own little hobby-horses? Maybe because Barclays is scamming us.
Cynthia Bower supposedly quit the Care Quality Commission with her head held high. I don’t think so. She quit before the CQC was exposed as being just as appallingly run as the West Midlands strategic health authority, which ignored the Stafford Hospital scandal. How do these people rise to the top? It’s like Lyn Homer – who moved from scandal in Birmingham to scandal at the Borders Agency and is now in charge of HMRC.
If you think the Coalition is chaotic, wait until we get an elected House of Lords and then decide who runs Britain.
The population’s just risen by another quarter of a million. So much for the Tory crackdown on immigration.
The news that Olympic badges are being made in a Chinese sweatshop by children earning 6p an hour doesn’t surprise me at all. The whole exercise in hype and exploitation fills me with horror. I am not looking forward to the Games and don’t care who wins what (except for the traditional athletics events).
A new survey says we’re being over-charged for our gas and electricity. I know that’s true having just dealt with two separate companies who both blamed “computer error” for trying to rip me off. I made E.on write a letter of apology after they tried to double my standing order. The only solution is not to trust any of them and always complain.